UWA receives funding for two new defence research projects


The research team led by Dr Mitali Sarkar-Tyson (right) will develop new drugs that fight antibiotic resistant bacteria.

The University of Western Australia (UWA) researchers have been awarded almost $250,000 by the state government to create new drugs that fight diseases and identify the best methods of alerting defence staff to issues. 

UWA Medical School Dr Mitali Sarkar-Tyson and UWA School of Molecular Sciences associate professor Keith Stubbs have received $150,000 of this funding towards developing new drugs that manage antibiotic resistant bacteria. 

“We hope to develop new therapeutics that will fight against bacterial pathogens which are of biowarfare concern,” Sarkar-Tyson said. 

“The compounds we are investigating are thought to be highly active against bacteria causing the diseases Q fever and melioidosis, which are both endemic in Australia.” 

The research group is working in collaboration with Murdoch University, Monash University and the Defence Materials Technology Centre. It has been awarded an additional $50,000 from the Victorian government’s Defence Science Institute and $50,000 from Therapeutics Innovation Australia. 

“In the future, we hope to design a tailored approach that will boost the effectiveness of the drugs we develop, while undertaking pre-clinical studies to analyse the safety and effectiveness,” Sarkar-Tyson said. 

The remaining $100,000 in state government funding will explore the best ways to alert defence staff of errors in a high workload situation, according to the project’s chief investigator, UWA School of Psychological Science’s Dr Zach Howard. 

“Our research will help system designers ensure operators in defence and emergency services environments are notified as quickly as possible when something goes wrong, no matter how busy or distracted they may be,” Howard said. 

“Operators are often multitasking, which presents an interesting challenge to analyse the best type of signal, or combination of signals that can be optimised in specific circumstances.” 

Howard’s research team aims to lay the foundations for further studies in safety research and discover new ways to alert people in emergency situations. 

Both UWA research projects are supported by the Defence Science Centre’s Collaborative Research Grant program, which is an initiative of the Western Australian state government. 

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